chapter  3
21 Pages

Exploring the North–South gap longitudinally

Has the absolute and relative gap between the North and the South narrowed appreciatively? Is there evidence of convergence on a global scale? To answer these questions, we assemble continuously aggregated information on the last century and a third of the size and relative wealth of the world economy’s rich states, or the North, and poor states, or the South. While other studies have addressed these questions, the longer analyses have been restricted to richer states and the broader analyses have been restricted to relatively short time frames. When we began our longitudinal analyses, it was possible to generate, with the aid of some interpolation, a 56-state sample thanks to Maddison’s (1995) well-respected data collection of yearly, real gross domestic product (GDP) and population fi gures. With additional data subsequently taken from Maddison (2007), we are able to encompass 133 years (1870-2003) and the overwhelming majority of the world’s economic output and population.1 There is also suffi cient heterogeneity within the data to monitor annual fl uctuations in economic growth and membership of North and South.